Eurelectric calls for debate on the future of the European electricity market

25 November 2002 – The European Electricity Union believes that the progress of European energy market liberalization has been encouraging but that greater coherence in regulating the industry is required if European electricity companies are able to compete with each other on a fair footing and live up to their environmental and societal obligations.

Speaking in Finland at an anniversary gathering at energy group Pohjolan Voima on Friday, Paul Bulteel, secretary general of the Union of the Electricity Industry – Eurelectric, said, “Increasing competition in open markets is rapidly becoming an established feature of the European energy scene. Considering that the process of liberalisation has only been under way for a relatively brief period, the progress so far is encouraging”. He pointed to the removal of successive transmission fees across European frontiers and said that 70 per cent of the overall European union is now open to competition.

He used the occasion to deliver a speech looking beyond the liberalization process and to consider the fundamental questions about the future development of Europe’s electricity industry. Bulteel said that real challenges lay ahead such as infrastructure gaps, market access and opening as well the need for reform in the natural gas market. He also said that securing an environmentally-friendly supply mix will become increasingly important but that this will need to be supported by am infrastructure capable of dealing with fluctuating power generation, such as wind energy.

Bulteel reaffirmed Eurelectric’s support for the liberalization process and called for an open-minded dialogue and the formulation of a shared vision between the industry, policy-makers and stakeholders. In particular he sought to encourage a level playing field on which strong European companies can operate – creating harmonisation in areas such as taxation, levies, supply procedures and support rules. He encouraged a debate and agreement on regulatory principles for the European market.

Other areas which needed to be addressed said Bulteel included establishing limits to the unbundling process, the broadening of the European market to welcome Russia and the Balkan states and establishing a consistency in environmental policies.

“This paper is an invitation to discuss and develop efforts for sharing a view on the further development of Europe’s electricity industry,” said Bulteel.

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